Cost of living varies depending on individual lifestyle preferences, availability of resources and other factors. Items frequently included in calculations of cost of living include rent/mortgage payments, food and bills for products and services such as electricity. Another bill that is included in cost of living calculations is the cost of home heating. Some homes are heated by wood or electricity, but many homes still are heated by gas.
In general, northeastern states pay the most. The typical average for heating a home in the Northeast in 2007 for 1 year using gas was about £910. This works out to about £76 per month, but the monthly average is disproportionate because heating is used more in the winter months than in the summer months. Figures from 2005 indicated that northwestern states such as Washington pay less, averaging around £52 per month. In more southern states, such as Arizona, heating costs can be as little as £22 per month. However, there is no way to completely lock averages into regions, because factors such as insulation, politics, etc. (outlined below) all can impact how much gas is used per month and how much it costs.
The efficiency of a gas heating system has a large impact on the heating bill. If a gas furnace is old, has a poor design in terms of venting or is consistently experiencing problems with dirty burners and filters, then the system must to run more often to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home, and more upkeep for the system (which also will cost money) will be required. This raises the cost of heating.
The size of the home is another factor in how much a heating bill costs using natural gas. Larger homes will require the use of more gas because they have a larger number of square feet of air to keep heated. This means a larger home can have a larger heating bill. Smaller homes, by contrast, do not have as much square footage and thus can be heated faster, requiring less gas and lowering heating costs.
Insulation/Age of Home
Insulation and age of a building can make all the difference in home heating costs. The more insulation a house has, the less likely heat is to escape. This means that the heating system will not need to run as often, or that it can be set to a lower temperature, thus reducing the amount the homeowner pays in gas for the system. The age of a building impacts how much insulation has been installed, how secure seals around windows are, etc., which determines how much heat escapes from the home and is wasted.
Heating costs using gas vary based on your geographical location. Some areas, such as Minnesota, experience extremely cold winters and therefore need to use more gas to heat the home. Other areas rarely dip near freezing and thus don't use as much gas because it is warmer. Additionally, because gas prices vary from region to region, two individuals may pay different amounts for the same amount of gas simply because they are in two areas.
The economy and politics are factors in home heating costs that often are not considered. Political events can affect the price of gas used in home heating, while the rules of supply and demand dictate that prices typically will rise for a product (including gas) if there is not a lot of the product to go around. An individual thus probably will pay more to heat his home with gas when the economy is poor and when political relationships result in low oil production or sale that raises the consumer cost.